Richard Webster retires from Trinity Church, Copley Square

August 9, 2022
Richard Webster (photo credit: Franck Grall)
Richard Webster (photo credit: Franck Grall)

Richard Webster will retire September 1 as director of music and organist at Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston, Massachusetts. He came to Trinity in 2005 as Michael Kleinschmidt’s associate, with the charge to found a serious choir program for children. The Trinity Choristers now numbers 30 boys, girls, and teens. In August the Trinity choirs complete their fifth tour to England under his leadership, with residencies at York Minster and Durham Cathedral. Webster also oversaw the renovation of Trinity’s 1926 Skinner nave organ, Opus 573, returning it to its original character, with the addition of a new four-manual replica Skinner console. The 2012 recording Awake, Arise! Voices of Trinity Church features the Trinity Choir and organists Colin Lynch and Ross Wood in music by Messiaen, Croft, and Webster.

Webster will remain active after retirement from Trinity Church as music director of Chicago’s Bach Week Festival, a post he has held since 1975. This fall will mark his second year as a guest lecturer at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, New Haven, Connecticut. In October he will direct a Three Choirs Festival in Indianapolis with the Christ Church Cathedral, Trinity Episcopal Church, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church choirs. He will continue as a guest conductor of the Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys, leading their annual Lessons and Carols in December. From September through November he will serve as sabbatical replacement at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Chatham, Massachusetts.

As organist/choirmaster emeritus of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Evanston, Illinois, he will join the celebration of the centennial of the Skinner organ, Opus 327, by conducting a hymn festival with the St. Luke’s Choir, brass, organ, and choir alumni. The October 15 festival will take place exactly 100 years to the day from when the church launched a four-day series of recitals to dedicate the instrument in 1922. Webster served St. Luke’s from 1972 to 2003, where he led the Choir of Men and Boys, founded the Girls Choir and Schola, took the choirs on seven tours to England, and released six recordings. He also spearheaded the 1994–1998 restoration of that historic organ. (Skinner Opus 327 is featured in the article, “Ernest M. Skinner in Chicago, Part 2: Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, Evanston,” by Stephen Schnurr, in the June 2022 issue of The Diapason, pages 14–21.)

As a composer he is currently completing several commissions, including a new congregational Mass setting for St. John-on-the-Mountain Church, Bernardsville, New Jersey. His hymn settings for brass, organ, choir, and congregation are in regular use across the United States as well as in Canada, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Taiwan, Sweden, and on BBC’s Songs of Praise. His music is published by Augsburg Fortress, Selah, Church Music Society, Church Publishing, and Advent Press, which publishes his music exclusively.

Webster has performed and recorded as organist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He is a past-president of the Association of Anglican Musicians, a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music, and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of the South at Sewanee. A passionate runner, he has completed 42 marathons and will run the Chicago Marathon in October.

 

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